01 Oct 2011

Fantasy Flight

Round 2 of the Building Virtual Worlds course at the ETC, Carnegie Mellon University.
A hang-gliding world aimed at recreating the sensation of flight.

Fantasy Flight was by far the most adventurous experience I created during Building Virtual Worlds, Fall 2011. This world was conceived for Round 2, also called the Naive Guest Round. Traditional non-gamers were selected to be guests for this round, and the teams were only allowed to give one verbal instruction to the guest. This was to force the team to design indirect control into their wolds. Three predictions were to be made by each team beforehand about how the guest would behave in their worlds to see how well they fared on indirect control.

The theme had to be something related to freedom and that, for my team, immediately meant flight.

We were dissatisfied with the way the previous hang-gliding worlds recreated the sensation of flight, so we initially came up with the idea of suspending the naive guest within a sleeping bag. After our professor Mk Haley aptly christened our concept sketch a ‘death-rig’ we settled for a hammock instead. Our instruction to the guest was to follow the green smoke to gain height. She fulfilled all three of our predictions! Here is a screen capture of a play-through:

Technical Challenges and Work Arounds

The world is not as pretty as I would have liked, mainly because two days before the final submission we discovered that the Kinect pointing top-down did not detect the skeleton of the person in the hammock.

Since the Unity wrapper for the Kinect was rendered useless, we put a pole on the back of the guest and I wrote a blob tracking system in openFrameworks using the raw depth map and calibrated the motion of the guest to match the motion of the virtual hang-glider. I then sent this information into Unity 3D over TCP. All in a day.

This chaos management was pretty much the most exhilarating experience I’ve had during BVW. The best part of this world for me was that it was crazy enough to win The Award of First Penguin at the BVW Show 2011!

The Team